Fallout 4 – Tips for Getting Started

Fallout 4 Screenshot Initial Nuke - Post Version

November turned out to be a great month to be a gamer. With the launch of Fallout 4, Battlefront, and the new Tomb Raider, there was plenty of great new games to look forward to playing. I will admit to being partial to Bethesda games; I love the way you can get lost in your surroundings and have a different experience on every play-through. My first introduction was Fallout 3 and then later Skyrim so Fallout 4 had my attention from the day I downloaded it. I knew the other games were just going to have to wait.

There are plenty of other blogs and articles out there that will provide you with a thorough review or details on specific aspects like quests or locations, but here are my thoughts for those of you just starting out.

Combat in the Early Stages
As you are finding your way out of Vault 111, you will find a Security Baton. Even with a low strength, this is a great weapon for the first couple hours of Fallout 4. You will find a 10mm pistol in the vault as well, but even with moderate to low Strength, one smack with the baton will take out most of the enemies you run across and will save you from having to spend your ammo. I used the Baton all the way through Concord until the boss battle with no problems. After this, stick with the baton and the pistol as you build up ammo for as long as you can stand it.

Perks
You start out with 28 points that you can assign to things like Strength, Perception, Intelligence, etc. To be honest there is no right way to start; a big part of Bethesda games is the ability to craft your character and almost develop a personality. My only recommendation is to start with at least 8 in Charisma and then you can assign your perks based on your game preferences. In Fallout 4, things are scarce and this includes caps which are the currency of the day so having a high Charisma will help with things like bartering; additionally, you will want to build at least a couple settlements as they can generate money for you and you will need a high Charisma to build them and add commerce.

The high charisma also helps in quests. There are times you can use your charm and skip parts of quests or get additional information but still earn the experience points.

Finally, and most importantly, you can get better prices for purchasing and selling when you are dealing with your vendors. Every little bit helps.

Settlements
Fallout 4 is hard and it is easy to die. Even when you think you are unbeatable, you will find yourself dying again and again. Having a good foundation for a character before you start in on quests will make things that much easier. Settlements are a great way to help build that foundation and a future. 

As I alluded to earlier, items are extremely scarce, but one of the ways you can counter this is to find ways to earn money. To do this you can plant food, harvest the items and then sell them. You can also purify water and sell it for a premium. You can also create your own marketplace and stock it with merchants, but to do any of these things, you have to build a settlement and you should start as early in the game as you can.

After you get out of Vault 111, you return to Sanctuary Hills and are re-united with your robot Cogsworth. Complete the brief quest with him and eliminate some criters in the area. At this point, Cogsworth will suggest you go to Concord (just south of Sanctuary Hills) to continue your main quest, but hold off before leaving.

First, you will need to locate the workbench in Sanctuary Hills and then go around and scrap the entire neighbor hood. Take down buildings, fences, trees, tires, concrete blocks, light poles, etc. Whatever you are allowed to scrap, you should scrap it. It will take some time to do this, but you will soon have everything you need to start a settlement. One of the best parts of scrapping is the ability to scrap the safes. There are a couple in Sanctuary and rather than worrying about picking them, you can just scrap them and the contents will be sent to your workbench so you don’t lose anything.

As soon as you can, build the biggest water purifier you can and then go off and do other things. It takes a while to build up so don’t spend time checking on the process (you will find the purified water in your workbench). You will probably not be able to plant anything right away, but water should always be the first step. I have read where others have created as many of the large purifiers as they can so you can try that option as well, but the more water you generate the more defenses you have to have. If your defenses are too light, you will be attacked more frequently and just one purifier early in the game requires a ton of defenses that you will probably not be able to provide right away.

The other consideration when building settlements is to not stretch yourself too thin. Once you free a settlement, you can limit the number of times you get called out to help if you have adequate defenses. To do this, you need to look at how much food and water you are producing and add those numbers together and build defenses that are higher than that total. If you consider my earlier suggestion to build the largest water purifier, it generates 40 units. If you are also generating 10 units of food, you will need over 50 points of defense to keep the settlers happy and the enemies at bay. Getting 50 points of defense going in the early stages is difficult so I would recommend expanding slowly and making sure you have adequate defenses before moving to another settlement.

Explore
At this point, you should have your settlement cleared, the water purifier going and things organized in Sanctuary to your liking. The next step should be to explore your surroundings still avoiding your first quest. I found a really great article at Gamespot.com that lists 18 different places you can go and stock up on some loot at the beginning of the game. You don’t have to do all of these and I would probably recommend you stop at #13 on the list, but it is still a great list.

The one place this list did not mention, however, was the Red Rocket Truck Stop. This is just south of Sanctuary Hills and it is here you will meet Dogmeat. I am not big into companions, but he is a great one to have in the early stages and you do not have to worry about him dying as he will just be incapacitated until the fight is over or you heal him. Dogmeat attracts primary attention from most enemies which gives you time to pick them off without getting beat up. This is critical in the early stages. Surprisingly, he can also carry a lot of weight. Not sure where he is putting it all, but hey… it works for me!

There is some decent loot in the tunnel below the station including a Fusion Core which are used to fuel Power Armor. Finally, this is a settlement so you should scap everything here and haul it over to Sanctuary. At this point, you should be all set to head to Concord.

Final Thoughts as You Head off into the Commonwealth
Perks are extremely important. You need to spend time getting familiar with them and knowing in advance which direction you want to go. Some people tell you not to worry about it, because you level up so fast and there is no limit to the number of levels you can achieve. I have seen some people on YouTube with a level of 250 and higher, but this is going to require a significant investment of time on your part. To give you an idea, I spent the equivalent of 4 days to complete my first run through and had reached level 53 and had still not come close to maxing out the perks. To max out everything, you would need to be level at least 111 (coincidence?), assuming you find all the bobbleheads.

There are faster ways to level up. I would recommend you craft early and often and an easy one is cooking. Take that radroach meat and cook it up for easy experience points. To hack the points a bit, you get experience every time you build something so you can build a prefab over and over again to generate experience but if you scrap these prefabs you will lose half of the resources. This is a lot easier in the early stages and you get perk points every time you level up so the more perk points you can get before starting out the better.